Mihipedia is a travel blog written by Mihiri Wikramanayake, a freelance travel writer. Mihipedia is about personal experiences, affordable itineraries, in beautiful locations. Some of the travel is sponsored and others are self-funded. Most of the photography is original and opinions are personal.
It’s a sultry Sunday morning, and even at this early hour of the morning, the heat is rising from the parched earth. I have navigated myself from Mahiyanganaya (where I spent the night) to the Pollebadde Galaasha Road in Maha Oya, as per instructions given to me by Nayaka Aththo (Chieftain). He flags me down outside his home. As I get down from the vehicle, he hurries up to me, clasped my hands together and greets me. I reciprocate by giving him a sheaf of betel leaves.
Nayaka Aththo is going to be my guide and guardian for the next two days as he leads the way to the summit of the formidable Nuwaragala. He is one of the few remaining Veddhas from the Pollebedde indigenous clan, descendants of Danigala Mahabandarala – a different ancestry to that of the renowned Damabana clan in Mahiyanganaya. After the death of his father three months ago, he has taken on the role as head of the clan.
Ready with my backpack, topped up water bottles and sleeping bag, and he with his sack containing a few worn out pots and pans, pouch of betel firmly secured around his waist, and an axe over his shoulder, we set off on the 9km trek. It is 8 in the morning.
Steeped in history and home to one of Sri Lanka’s 16 sacred places (solosmasthana), Mahiyanagana, once a sleepy town, is now a bustling city. I am passing through Mahiyangana en route to Nuwaragala in Maha Oya.
One of the focal points of this city is the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Temple, which plays a significant role in the history of Buddhism in this country. On a Duruthu Full Moon Poya day in January, and nine months after attaining enlightenment, Buddha visited Mahiyanagana (1 BE. or 528 BC), his first visit to this island nation.
Inconspicuously hidden in a tangle of trees and marked pathways is The Backwaters Lodge. A short drive from the main Wilpattu National Park Hotel Road at Eluwankulama, google maps is spot on!
On arrival, friend and host, Tarique Omar is at hand, with his charming smile and inimitable manner to ensure cold towels and a fresh juice is served, check-in is smooth, breakfast is laid out, and all the visitors are well taken care of.
I feel privileged to be amongst a special gathering of friends who have come to The Backwaters to celebrate the second anniversary of this amazing place!
Santorini is the glowing pendant of Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea it seems. So, last but not least, I am off on the Paros Jet to check out what this island is all about.
Five hours 45 minutes later, I am on this crescent-shaped island, being driven to the Anemomylos Suites.
This comfortable, family-run traditional apartment is just a few meters from the central square of Fira, the capital of the island.
During the 16th century, this island was devastated by a volcanic eruption and hence, the rugged, breathtaking landscape. And like the other islands, this one too, is designed with whitewashed cubi-form houses with its trademark blue trimmings, that cling to cliffs above the underwater caldera (crater). And unlike the other islands, this one is far more crowded, noisier and more expensive.
I’m island hopping again and back at the harbor waiting to board the Naxos Jet (a ferry) to Paros.
I have opted for Paros for two reasons; to give one travel companion a chance to bathe in the sea and to experience a less visited island. Approximately three hours later, we disembark in this tiny island and are immediately caught up in the island’s vibe.